Thursday, January 31, 2013

Communication 102: Tips for One-on-One Communication

(To see my previous post on this subject, click here - Communication 101)

The term communicate is defined different ways one of which is: "to express thoughts, feelings, or information easily or effectively." This makes my point on the importance of communication. So you want to convey your message for your cause, campaign or crusade? If your answer is "yes", you have to figure out how to express yourself in a way that your listeners can understand.

When telling yourself "I'd like to be a better communicator" there are three different aspects you should consider: one on one, to a group, or via the written word which can be a hand written note, a social media post or an editorial piece.

But there are also some general aspects to consider regardless of the above scenarios.
  • Consider your goal for the specific conservation: Do you want to get them to think? Ask questions. Do not preach to them. Let them find the answer on their own in your dialog. If they realize the answer (that you wanted to convey) personally, they will more seriously consider and embrace it. 
  • Have you put yourself in their shoes? Try to determine where they are coming from before you demonize them for a position on an issue they have embraced. It is wise and generous and humane to try to understand their take and why. It is what you would expect and hope for from others, correct? 
For this blog-post, here are some tips when you are interacting one on one:
  • Eye: Do you look people in the eye, providing confidence and trust of the person you're speaking to? Shifting eyes can display embarrassment, shame, or potentially indicate faulty information.
  • Handshake: When you shake someone's hand is it with a loose grip? Many of us would refer to that as the limp fish grip. If you want to convey confidence I recommend a different introductory shake of firmness yet gentleness. Don't grip the fingers but fit your handle comfortably in their hand. The last thing you want is for people to cringe at their aching hand after you have just greeted one another. Their mind will be on their smarting limb, not your important message
  • Proximity: How close you stand to someone influences the conversation. Everyone has their social spaces. If you stand close, it indicates familiarity, with the person. But if you attempted too close of contact with a stranger, especially of the opposite sex, it will cause them to back away and possibly turn their back and walk away.
  • Non-Verbals: Are you reading their non-verbals? If the person you are speaking with is consistently checking their watch for the time, or looking over their shoulder, it's possible they need to slip away, they don't want to get involved in the conversation right now or that you're being too pushy and attempting to go "somewhere" they do not wish to go.
  • Surroundings: Are you aware of what is happening around you? Is the atmosphere quiet and you should move into the hallway? Is it loud and no matter how loud you shout, the person you're attempting to speak to is just not going to be able to understand you? Is it an appropriate venue to discuss such a subject? 
Some of these seem basic tips so perhaps they are just good reminders It's all about being self aware but being bold enough to engage other people. Be aware of who you are and always remember that perception is reality. To the person listening, at times the "truth" in their mind is not just what you say but whether they perceive you well.

More tips later!